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Occupy Denver clashes with police over the creation of a cardboard structure (PHOTOS)

cardboard cops small.jpg
Occupy Denver clashed with the Denver Police Department again last night over a recently built cardboard shelter in Civic Center Park. Later dubbed "the Thundercube" because of the symbol the Thunderdome has become regarding the group's rights, the small, ceiling-free fort was built from about 25 cardboard boxes that had previously been relegated to material for signs. Approximately ten minutes after it was built, six officers from the Denver Police Department arrived on the scene.

Citing Denver Revised Municipal Code entry 39-7, the police immediately asked the gathering, which had swelled due to the 7 p.m. general assembly, to tear down the new fort. Originally built as a small shelter against the cold and a public art piece, the cardboard shack was at that time devoted to the signatures and messages of several Sharpie-holding hands. The group's immediate reaction was to refuse, at which point the officers, supplemented by two cop cars, one SUV and two motorcycles, made it clear that anyone defending the cardboard structure would be arrested.

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Kelsey Whipple
The newly erected cardboad fort was intended as a shelter from the cold as well as a small piece of public art.
Presented in full by DPD sergeant Jeff Hausner, DRMC 39-7 states:
"It is unlawful for any person... to build or place any tent, building, shack, booth, or stand... in or on any city park... without having first obtained a permit."

The small box shack drew immediate attention from police constantly positioned across the street to monitor the group because its placement blocked part of the sideway, Hausner says. "Even the people sleeping on the sidewalks at night are currently in violation of the law, but we're willing to let that one go. This one, we cannot."

The fluctuating interpretation of the ruling drew confusion from the Occupy gathering, which was split almost in half on the decision of whether or not to tear down the Thundercube. "A few guys duct-taped the cardboard together, moved it over here and asked people to write on it," Regis freshman Connor McFarland says. "I came here after the solidarity protest for the four people in jail for squatting, and then all of a sudden the police were here."

occupy cardboard cops.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Protesters confront DPD officers about their ruling on the structure.
The confrontation was preceded by a 5 p.m. rally on behalf of a Sunday raid during which four Occupy Denver supporters were arrested for squatting -- including Amelia Nicol, an anarchist against whom murder charges were dropped earlier this year, and Occupy Denver profile subject Jonathan Shepard. As the interaction between police waiting at their vehicles and protesters sitting inside the structure grew more tense, so too did the relations between protesters, a handful of whom began to tear down the cardboard while others attempted to prevent them from doing so.

occupy cardboard 3.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Protesters begin to tear down their creation.
As a rendition of "Happy birthday," accompanied by an alien-shaped cake, came from the Thunderdome, protesters gathered inside the remaining portion of the fort to sing a surprising mix of "Don't Stop Believin'," "Lean On Me" and Smash Mouth's "All Star." Two of the police offers present took turns photographing the scene -- until eventually there was nothing left to protest.

Around 9 p.m., about five more protesters joined the shack's original detractors to tear down the rest of the structure, a decision that upset those on the other side of the argument. Although a few joked about recreating it, the DPD has now set a precedent regarding how it will interpret the law in the city park. While smaller sites like the current Thunderdome are currently allowed, larger structures will not be permitted to exist, Hausner says.

In the meantime, a police presence remains in Lincoln Park across the street from the Occupy Denver camp at all times.

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver's Amelia Nicol, Jonathan Shepard among 4 busted in raid on squat."



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25 comments
not 1% not 99%
not 1% not 99%

You guys said it, at the height of this protest in Denver, you maybe had 4000 to 5000 people downtown.  Maybe.  I would love to know the number of supporters and the number of people watching, all of which became the 4000-5000 number to begin with.  What I'm trying to say is that in Colorado, or NY, the overall support hasn't really been there.  In Denver, with 10000 homeless (I believe that was a number thrown out on here somewhere) you cant even get a good percentage of those people down there to support the cause.

In comparison, Denver brought out over 20,000 people to dress like a zombie, and crawl around the town which was a 1time event, and not all that organized or planned. 

I got to see the news in Oakland, (near Berkeley) California this weekend also.  There were 200 supporters that were there on a full time basis.  200 people in CA....so many people living there, and there was 200 people.  In comparison, we went to a movie at one of the large theaters, and it had sold 186 tickets to the 3rd weekend of a movie that was showing.

As each week passes, and more of this "movement" just turns into people that are completely anti government, you will have less support.  Your no longer standing for a cause, you're now just acting out like a 3 year old.  I beg you to please get violent so the police can just give you the ass whooping you really deserve. 

betweenthelines
betweenthelines

New York City lawmakers embraced the 'Occupy' movement and allowed the protestors to remain. Yes, they could have found some "ordinance" to allow the police to forcibly remove them, but they didn't. The city council and the Mayor don't want a group of protestors on their front lawn drawing attention to their comfy 'politics as usual' routine. I think this is evident by the council's immediate decision to suddenly tackle 'the homeless' situation downtown...........I would hope this tactic is as transparent as it is convenient......

TheRevolutionHasStarted
TheRevolutionHasStarted

Let's see how much more we can blow the government's budget!  Great work!  Keep it up!  Hopefully soon, they won't have the funds to pay the thugs to be around.

Guest
Guest

Next time, just write "Human Growth Hormone/Steroids sold here!" on the structure. DPD would never tear THAT down!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The DPD chooses which laws it enforces, when, where, and how much.

not 1% not 99%
not 1% not 99%

I dont know that I would use the word embraced, maybe tolerated.  Give it time.  I believe the true majority of this country will speak and when they do it will be to can the "movement"

Guest
Guest

Wow-I heard this from several people last night.  So, the plan is to deplete the city budget on pointless acts of civil disobedience that the GA never approved so that the police will just go away.  Well, that is technically a plan-though in my opinion, one of the worst plans I've ever heard.

So we want to draw more of the 99% into the movement.  How do you think that intentionally draining the city's budget does that?  Let's say for the sake of argument that you're right, and you manage to deplete the entire police overtime budget through these acts.  You're aware the city has other funds appropriated for different purposes, right?  Can you not see that the city will simply move money from one fund site to another to maintain police services?  If you manage to drain the entire budget, have you considered that the city can simply raise taxes on the 99% to make up the difference?  Have you considered the possibility that FEMA or another Federal agency might well step in as well?  Hickenlooper is obviously against the Occupy movement-have you thought about the possibility that State funds might be made available to the city?

More importantly, did the people involved in this civil disobedience bother to come to a GA to ask for consensus regarding the erection of the cardboard boxes, or for consensus regarding a response if the police did respond?  I saw the wall o' boxes standing in the park at about 3:30 PM-so it seems that there was at least the possibility of coming to the 3 PM GA to discuss the issue with the group.  We have a direct democracy, and every interaction with the police gets media attention.  We need to be much more media and PR savvy, and choose our battles with DPD. 

We also need to remember the principles of occupy together-we're to treat the police with respect EVEN when we disagree.  When we think they're wrong, we need to have that discussion not with the wage-slave cop on the sidewalk, but with his superiors through the courts.  SCREAMING 'fuck the police' and various other insults gets us nowhere.

Of course, some who associate themselves with Occupy Denver clearly feel that those principles, which are published on the occupydenver.org web page and are the basis for our gathering, don't apply to them.  I heard from a few occupiers that the principles were never voted on, and are therefore irrelevant.  These same individuals assert that the St. Paul Principles supersede them-even though they are not published on the web site nor discussed as part of a larger conversation.  MANY occupiers want to reconsider the adoption of those principles, as it's become obvious that they're used as justification for anything any member feels is appropriate.  Westword is missing a larger story about factionalism and attempts by a specific subgroup to hijack the movement for their own ends.

 

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Revolution. Thanks for reading and posting.

Anonymous
Anonymous

They would tear it down in anger when they didn't find their fix their lol

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I don't believe that Occupy Denver has spent a dime of tax revenue, or forced the City to spend more than a tiny fraction of what is has chosen to spend.  You exemplify the dim liberalism of all too many participants, which fails to identify or confront our local enemies and would turn the protest into little more than free public entertainment on Saturdays.  Your opponents are not the 1%, but the few people with the wit and stamina to fight -- that makes you a detriment to the movement!.

FightOn
FightOn

I have been unemployed for years and have no taxable income.  I am one of the 99% and there are a lot more of us.  You pay the higher taxes.  Thanks!

TooFunny
TooFunny

The protester's are not asking for the police presence, yet they are to blame for blowing the budget?  How about putting blame where it belongs...blame the people who are ordering and paying for them to be there?  There exists a finite amout of cash.  Printing more only depletes the value.

Also, it far passed time for the "haves" to have less...the greedy basters.  I guessing by your responce you are one of them?  Good, I hope you get to pay higher taxes as a result.

Keep up the good work!

Guest
Guest

Our presence is the protest, Robert.  I also agree with tactically sound acts of civil disobedience endorsed by the GA.  Your claim seems to be that GA will not approve the acts if it's brought to them.  So let's draw the obvious parallel.  We're justified in taking action outside of the established process because the end justify the means?  Couldn't the same argument be made-HASN'T the same argument been made-to justify the extrajudicial killing of American citizens abroad by the US Government?  At what point do we become what we hate?  Did we abandon one hypocritical political system for another, or are we trying to make a real change?  Civil disobedience DOES and HAS worked-in conjunction with a communication process with the powers that be and using the courts.  We can't just offer the government our meager 'sticks' as incentive, we have to offer the occasional carrot as well.  What we're seeing shape up now is counterproductive and undemocratic.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

By all means, let's litigate!  As for civil disobedience, if it has to be endorsed by the GA first, we might as well forget this tool.  Occupy Denver sits in the center of the compass of power in Colorado -- the CityCounty to our west, the Capitol to our east, the Supreme and Appellate Courts to our south, and the heart of the corporate media machine to our immediate north -- if we cannot mount protests at these venues (add the DPD administration to our SW and CSP headquarters to our SE), we are not being effective.

Guest
Guest

Yep, the strategy we're seeing right now has been super effective.  Tell me, does the World Trade Organization still exist?  Did the 2008 RNC in St. Paul get cancelled?  Did it end the Republican party when I wasn't looking?  Did logging or animal research stop as a result of these tactics?  Could you be any more intentionally obtuse?  These tactics of random acts of civil disobedience that are not coordinated through the democratic process accomplish nothing.  The rally immediately after the eviction drew 4-5000 people.  The community can get behind us on that issue, because it's pretty clearly a violation of our civil liberties.  Then certain folks chose to sit down in a major intersection and to re-establish tents before the issue could be litigated out.  Even with the added incentive of free music, the following Saturday's march drew 1000. 

I think the correlation strongly indicates causation in this case. 

not 1% not 99%
not 1% not 99%

I'm not sorry for your situation.  You CHOOSE to live a worthless existence, and make nothing of yourself.  I'm sure you have your reasons, and the system will continue to pay you unemployment, but eventually that system will also go bankrupt, and you will then truly be left with nothing.  I cant wait for that to happen to people that feel so entitled like you

Guest
Guest

I'm sorry for your situation.  I'm glad that there are public resources for you to use, and I believe that those resources must be expanded.  There's no excuse to have a single person in the country living on the streets if it's not of their own choosing.  Distribution of resources in our society is ridiculously unequal.  I was under the impression that was the reason for occupy.  What does any of that have to do with a discussion of tactics?  How does antagonizing those who pay taxes jibe with an all-inclusive movement? 

FightOn
FightOn

If?  I've been unemployed for years, I have no money to be taxed.  I can't even afford Internet connection which is why I'm in the library.  Living in the street doesn't come with rent.  Nice try.  Oh, and please stay employed, the government needs you money.  Thanks!

Guest
Guest

If you purchase anything, you pay tax.  If you rent an apartment, you indirectly pay tax. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The case hasn't even been opened, but you are ready to pass sentence.  Should you become a judge, may revolutionary justice find you!

not 1% not 99%
not 1% not 99%

what happened to a peaceful demonstration within the law?  The occupiers broke the law and the police responded.  Case closed.  You guys are lucky I am not the judge on the case.  I would make sure to leave a lasting impression on you with the full consequences of the law...

peasant
peasant

It's wrong to blame one group for the actions of another.  We must all take responsibility for our actions.

Guest
Guest

I agree.  The government's actions are absolutely, IMO, unlawful.  So do we address that on the sidewalk with a beat cop with no ability to decide anything at all, or through the government and the courts?  Is the forum in our society for mediating such disputes the sidewalk or the courthouse?  Should it be both?  Does it win anyone over to the cause to make public statements seeming celebrating this misuse of funds?  I believe we need to think before we act and right now that's just not occurring.  This is chess, folks, not checkers.  Raw appeals to emotion and allowing our frustration-albeit understandable-to substitute for deliberative processes isn't a winning strategy.  Temper tantrums don't affect change.

NotWoofka
NotWoofka

Hmm, let's change your supposition around..I'm going to change one word of your first sentence...see if it still makes sense:The (robbers, vandals, petty thieves)  are not asking for the police presence, yet they are to blame for blowing the budget?  How about putting blame where it belongs...blame the people who are ordering and paying for them to be there? 

Guest
Guest

No, the protesters are not at all to blame for the city's overreaction-but didn't occupiers erect the structure, knowing it was unlawful?  I absolutely do blame those giving the orders, and there's a process for addressing those issues.  The venue for that accountability process is not the sidewalk.  We claim the government is unresponsive-then when agents of the government try to interact with occupy, they're rebuffed. 

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